'Danger of further industrial action' - Ryanair bosses meet with pilots union for crunch talks
Efforts to resolve the ongoing Ryanair dispute began this morning, but indications suggest that a resolution won't be made today.
Industrial action by pilots has caused widespread disruption throughout Europe over the past month, with five one day strikes forcing the cancellation of more than 100 flights.
This morning's talks started at 9.30am this morning in Dublin Airport, with four Ryanair pilots and a number of trade union negotiators discussing ways to reach a settlement.
Kieran Mulvey, the former head of the Workplace Relations Commission, was called in as an independent mediator who will try and break the deadlock between the two sides.
Speaking to Independent.ie, Bernard Harbour from the FORSA - the union which represents the pilots - said he's optimistic that an agreement will eventually be made.
"I'd be surprised if an resolution was made today, but there could well be one within the next two or three days," he said.
"Today is significant because it's 24 days since the two parties sat down together to have any type of conversation, despite the fact that there have been five one day strikes.
"It's also significant because the company has accepted a suggestion that we get a third party facilitator to help the process along.
"Kieran Mulvey is a very experienced and accomplished man, which means our objective to negotiate a settlement has become more likely.
"But there's still a big gap between the two dies but it's a bridgeable gap."
Mr Harbour believes that Ryanair are inexperienced in negotiating with unions.
"It's been only seven or eight months since they decided to deal with unions, which is why I think they're struggling with the process, but they're coming here to talk to us and that can only be a good thing."
He added that no further strikes have been planned to date, but warns if Ryanair does not address the pilots' work condition concerns that more days of industrial action will be likely.
"We think it's very possible to achieve a settlement, but if this process isn't successful then there is obviously the danger of further industrial action."
Kenny Jacobs, Ryanair’s chief marketing officer, told Morning Ireland that the dispute had gone to a third party because the series of "unjustified" strikes has not achieved anything.
“We hope that, with third party mediation, Forsa will now take control of their side of the process,” he said. “We hope that any unwanted interference by non-Ryanair pilots is removed. We hope that Forsa take it more seriously and we ultimately hope that this process is successful.”
It is now understood that Mr Mulvey has asked both sides to refrain from talking to the media while the process is underway.